By: Justicia Shipena
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula says leftover food is bringing mice to the hospitals. Shangula said this in an interview on Eagle FM’s Home Run show while responding to concerns raised about mice making a home in the Katutura hospital.
According to him, leftover food in the hospital invites mice, and they invade to feed.
“The question is, why do the mice come to the hospital? That is the question? The mice come to the hospital because there is leftover food. It also happens in your house; If you leave leftover food, you are inviting the rats because they are coming to feed. After all, that is the reason they are there,” he said.
He said this is also caused by some patients receiving food from home, which they do not consume immediately.
“When patients are in the hospital, they are being fed. Sometimes they are not in the position to eat or have no appetite, the food is then left there, and the patient does not eat. Of course, these mice, I don’t know how they might have very good smell function, they follow where the food is,” he explained.
Shangula then questioned how the process which invites mice to the hospitals could be controlled, adding that it would be inhumane to halt patients from receiving food.
“I think that will be inhumane and crucial. We do regular fumigation, and these chemicals are not suitable for the patients, so we cannot be doing it every day because you have to take care of the patient. It is a delicate situation.”
Shangula did not deny that there were no mice in the Katutura hospital and said that the health ministry is aware of it.
“I did not say that there are no mice in Katututra hospital, and I did not say that there are no mice in some hospitals,” he clarifies.
The health minister also invited the public with solutions to the matter to approach the ministry.
“If there is anyone who has got a formula on how to balance the two, we will welcome that. We are aware of that, and it is an undesirable situation. We will continue to see what is the best way to bring mice out of the hospitals,” Shangula urged.
Speaking on health facility renovations, he said is no year no upgrades are not taking place at the health facilities.
“There is not a single year where there is no renovation going in the hospitals. If you follow the budget allocations in the National Assembly, I always announce how many millions have been allocated for renovations of health facilities.”
He added that in this financial year, about N$50 million is allocated for renovations. The health ministry received N$8.4 billion in the 2022/23 financial year.
Last year, the the ministry of health was allocated a budget of N$8.1 billion, and about 50 per cent of the ministry’s budget went to salaries and employee benefits.
Another N$3,3 billion was for the purchase of goods and services, while N$325 million was reserved for subsidies and other transfers.
Although the health ministry’s budget was the second highest in that year’s budget, in August, it indicated it needed an additional budget of about N$500 million to implement various programmes planned for 2021.
Meanwhile, Shangula said the renovations are done countrywide, and the ministry cannot focus on one hospital only.
“You cannot just prioritise the one is in bad shape because that amount will not be enough for everything. One of the principles we follow is that when we do renovations, we make sure that we find a convenient place to shift the patients so that you renovate one part of the hospital,” he said.
Furthermore, he said hospitals could not be entirely closed because of renovations, adding that people would still require health care.
“People still need to be admitted. We must understand that the ministry of health does not only have Katutura hospital to take care of. You have Katima Mulilo, Lüderit, Swakopmund hospitals etc. And all these hospitals need to be maintained, but they are maintained with the funds allocated by parliament allocated in that financial year and the next financial year. You again ask for money to continue with the renovations.”
When asked whether the conditions of the hospitals are good at the moment, Shangula expressed there are hospitals with good conditions and those without.
He revealed that the casualty department at the Katutura hospital is under renovations and is expected to be completed by October.